Post # 1
Has anyone done this? Pros/cons? We wanted to elope but I really want our parents to be there. Now we are thinking about a last minute, super small (<10 guests) in our backyard or in the mountains. Then having a reception/party later once everyone knows we got married. The reception would only be around 50 people so not huge either. It would be casual (no speeches or dances or anything), but we would have food, a band, and bonfire. Would 3-4 weeks later be okay or should it be closer? Or is the whole idea just weird to people?
We are still just tossing around a lot of ideas, but this is what we are currently thinking.
Post # 2
This is what we are doing. Just us, parents, and our sisters.
Do what will make you two happy!
Post # 3
Friends of mine did that. Their wedding only included parents, grandparents and siblings and 2-3 very close friends. They got married in spring and then invited a whole bunch of people for a BBQ in summer. It was fun, don’t think anybody was bothered.
Post # 4
It’s not weird at all and perfectly acceptable. Sounds lovely!
Post # 5
- Wedding: July 2017 - State Park
My brother did this with the reception 2 weeks later… it was too close together and I didn’t really mind, but was honestly a little put out. The wedding ceremony was fairly formal and had probably 15 or more people there and was followed by a nice catered dinner, first dance, the whole deal. It felt really complete. The second reception just felt… extra. I think aunts/uncles and some of their friends were really glad they got to celebrate with them. But as someone who had to be there for both… not my favorite.
If they had been a little further apart, I might have felt differently.
I took my cues from that and just did the 10-15 guest wedding. And that was it. Married in a gorgeous park, back to the house for a catered buffet of incredible mediterranean food and pizza and drinks. We did it on a Sunday afternoon. Only thing I’d change is I’d’ve done a Saturday early evening. Our extended families and friends all understood completely and some have even decided to do something similar.
I’m not in the camp that will say it’s rude to have a reception after the fact and not invite people to the wedding. I’m just saying that you very well may be satisfied with the wedding itself and not need the bigger reception later.
Post # 6
I think it’s great! A couple of my cousins did that where they had a private ceremony and then a semi-casual bbq type reception a week later. 3 to 4 weeks sounds perfect though in case it’s tough for some family to do two weekends in a row.
Post # 7
Sounds like a great idea to me!
Post # 8
- Wedding: November 2025 - City, State
Having a small wedding and then later hosting a larger party is fine. But make sure you have a same-day reception for the wedding guests (dinner at your house is fine, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy) and don’t consider the big party to be a wedding-related event.
It won’t be a wedding reception. It will just be a dinner party you and your spouse will be hosting together for the first time as husband and wife (or wife and wife or what have you). Like you said, skip toasts, spotlight dances, and other trappings (no white ballgown, no favors, no bouquet toss, no tiered cake). Just make it a normal, fairly casual party and no one will have cause to feel offended. Trying to make it part of your wedding, with the event split up into separate parts with different guest lists, will result in hurt feelings. Plus, the whole point of a wedding reception is to “receive” your wedding guests by providing hospitality to thank them for attending your important life event – in the same way you would offer up some brunch or cake after your kid’s christening – and the bigger party a few weeks later isn’t that. Don’t conflate the two events – wedding and party – and there shouldn’t be an issue.
Food and a bonfire sounds great. A band seems like a little much.
Post # 9
I would disagree, the word reception means a party to celebrate an event. You can host a reception for a graduation party, baby, career accomplishment.
If it’s a party to celebrate your marriage, call it a reception and do everything you want to do. Maybe it depends on your crowd though.
I’ll caveat this with mentioning this is how it’s done on my culture. Our wedding ceremonies are private followed by reception which usually involve much larger crowd of people. Only 25 people will be there to watch fi and I get married. They we are doing wedding photos with a larger crowd(about 50 people). We’re treating this 50 people to a buffet dinner. But we’re doing our reception the following day and 180 people are invited to that. That’s the party with the dances, cake, speeches, stuff like that.
Because private ceremonies are normal in our culture (well the 2 different days thing isn’t normal, that just our spin on it), we haven’t gotten any side eyes for celebrating with more family than got to see our wedding.
I say you should do it. There are invite templates for exactly this situation.
Post # 10
Thanks, everyone! You guys have given some really good suggestions/things to think about!
We would definitely plan on having lunch or dinner catered after the ceremony or maybe going to a restaurant with a private room? I’m not sure but it would be something.
I think the only people who would attend both events would be my parents and my brother who is in our same friend group (so all his friends would be there too). I don’t think his parents or any of the grandparents would be interested in the “reception” since it will be more of a party/drinking vibe.
I didn’t realize though that it wasn’t proper etiquette to have the events be related, especially since I was hoping to get to wear my dress again. So that’s good to know. Is the issue because people would be offended they weren’t invited to the ceremony? I guess I hadn’t really thought of people getting offended since it would just be parents/grandparents/siblings. Our friends are all super low maintenance and cool, so I don’t think they would be. But I definitely don’t want to do something that everyone else knows is a “no-no” that I was just unaware of.
As far as the band goes, we have a band for everything around here haha — engagements, graduations, birthdays. But think more like a few guys sitting around, playing banjos and acoustic instruments, not a whole sound system and a stage or anything.
Post # 11
We did someone similar. We had the ceremony outside with immediate family and 4 friends each (this added up to 30 adults + kids). We had a pretty fancy dinner for them. Then we went on our honeymoon for 2 weeks and had a big, cheap and cheerful, party for 100 when we got back. It worked out perfectly for us and it’s fun to spread the celebrations out!! Its not usual here but none of the guests found it weird, and they were all happy 😃
I wore the same (green) dress for both events. Both my mum and Mother-In-Law wore the same dresses. Hubby, brothers, best man, all wore the same suits. I kinda wish I’d treated myself to a second dress, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing yours to both events!
We did normal wedding invitations for the first part, and sent out invitations to “a celebration of the marriage of weddingwitch and weddingwarlock” for the second event.
Post # 12
I have a friend that did this. She had a private ceremony in Hawaii with the parents and siblings present then had a reception the following weekend after they got home.
There were several family members, mainly her aunts, that were upset that they weren’t invited to see the actual ceremony. They still attended the reception, but to this day, nearly 3 years later, it’s brought up at family events so the hurt is still fresh. What is also making it harder for my friend is that one of her cousins is getting married this summer and is having a traditional wedding and reception the same day, so now those wounds have been opened.
But otherwise it was well received. A lot of people were happy that they didn’t have to take 12 hours out of their day for a ceremony and reception.
However, my friend regrets doing it this way. She wishes she had done things the traditional way. She didn’t think she’d miss having a bridal party and having everyone see the ceremony but she did. However if you were planning on eloping to begin with, then you may not regret your decision.
Post # 13
My fmil suggested that we do this today. I think it’s a great idea.
Post # 14
We got married in city hall in USA and 5 weeks after that we had a big wedding in Antalya. My parents and one of my aunts flew to the States for our civil ceremony. My husband’s family is all in USA. So his siblings, parents and one of his grandmothers were with us as well. In total we were 13 people. We had a civil ceremony around 3pm. After that we went to our favorite neighborhood bar for celebration drinks. My Father-In-Law rented a private room of a very nice Italian restaurant. We all went there for dinner. Nothing formal. No dance, no cake, no speeches. We just enjoyed each other’s company. After dinner we went to our hotel bar with our siblings and met some of our friends there. At the bar, I had one friend who was not married. So before we went to our room I throw my bouquet to her. The whole day was magical!
5 weeks after that we had a big wedding in my hometown Antalya. My husband’s family was looking forward to visit Antalya and we have so many friends living all around the world. It was a great excuse to have a vacation together and celebrate our marriage. We didn’t hide from anyone that we were already married and nobody was offended. But we still had a symbolic ceremony. After the wedding in Antalya we went to our honeymoon.
Having 5 weeks in between two events was great! We had no stress and enjoyed every minute of it.